Quotes from Coach Izzo, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne
March 23, 2013
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Post-Game Quotes: Michigan State 70 - Memphis 48
MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach Izzo.
COACH IZZO: I heard some of Josh's comments, and I will say this, that team worried me as much as any team we played. I think they're tough, they're strong. They did a hell of a job the first half on the offensive boards. They turned us over. For a guy that's just, you know, been grinding his teeth coming through a program where the level it was at, I think he's done an incredible job, and a lovefest where he's supposed to give me credit, I'm supposed to give him credit. I appreciate how hard it is to take over a job at that point and I appreciate the job he's done. He does it with energy. He's a good recruiter, and they run some good stuff. So we did a hell of a job in about a 12-minute stretch defensively, and for some reason, we rebounded the ball awfully well. I told Adreian he only had three the first half and he just dominated between blocks and rebounds the second half, and we did a better job of getting it inside. And we could keep Gary on the court after a monstrous first half, you know, it would have been a little easier for us, but it's never easy for us. It's just the way our team is, and I'm just happy to get away with a win against a good team.
MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Adreian, first talk about your defense and then after Gary picked up his fourth foul you scored six of the next eight points, was that a coincidence or did something click?
Adreian Payne: You know, I think it was a coincidence. I didn't really know that was going to happen. I was just trying to play hard, you know, let my offense come.
Q. What about defense?
Adreian Payne: You know, my defense is credited to, you know, coach, basically, because he put me in the right positions and I just made it happen.
Q. AP, getting to the round of 16 is not the goal of this program, obviously, but now you guys are there five out of six times. Can you enjoy this accomplishment for the night or a day or not at all?
Adreian Payne: Yeah, we can enjoy it on the bus, the ride home, and once we get back to East Lansing, it's going to be time to work.
Gary Harris: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely -- it's part of the goal because we need to get to the Sweet 16 to get to the Final Four and eventually a championship. I mean, we just happy with this win right now. Like A.P said, we're going to enjoy it on the way back, but then once we get to East Lansing, it's time to get back to work.
Q. Adreian, can you talk about the inside-out play that you had? Is that as effective as you've been against a team of that caliber?
Adreian Payne: Yeah, I think Nix did a great job of, you know, passing the ball and for us playing through Nix getting the ball into the post, and he made some great plays, you know, kicking the ball out and scoring the ball down low and finishing around the basket.
Q. We heard that you said something after the Valpo game where you kind of stepped up and said you'd have better focused, something like that. Can you tell us what you said? How eager were you to get back out there? Gary, did you sense that something was coming from Adreian today?
Adreian Payne: Yeah, you know, after the Valpo game I felt that I didn't play as well as I should have, and so at the end of the game I came in and I apologized to the team about, you know, my play. And I told them that I couldn't have had many turnovers for us to advance in the tournament, and I told them wouldn't let that happen again. So I tried to work on that and watch film and get better. Gary Harris: Yeah, I mean, he didn't have a typical AP type of game that he usually has. So I mean he's the type of guy, you know, he's going to bounce back. He went back, watched film, saw the mistakes he made, saw how he could do things differently, and he showed it today and had a great game today.
Q. A.P., Coach Pastner just said if you play like this, you can lead this team to a Final Four. Do you realize that you can lead this team and has that hit your shoulders yet?
Adreian Payne: You know, that's a great question. (Laughter) You know, my goal is to try to be as consistent as I can throughout this tournament, and if that happens, then, you know, it's going to happen.
Q. Gary and for Adreian, can you both talk about in the first half for you Gary, the second half for you Adreian what it feels like to be in the zone like that when you're just clicking?
Gary Harris: I mean, it always feels good to see shots going in. I mean, I just got to give credit to my teammates. They were able to find me when I was open and had confidence in me and I was able to knock down the shot. Adreian Payne: You know, what he just said was right. It's always good, and we played at home. Well, you know, we had a good crowd, great crowd. You know, we feed off of the crowd, and they was -- you know, they was great. And, you know, Gary was making a lot of shots so we tried to go back to him. You know, I missed one time and shot a three.
MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. The floor is open for Coach Izzo.
Q. Will you comment on Coach Pastner's thoughts about Adreian can lead this team to a Final Four? Second you're famous for the saying you love player coach teams. There was a lot of player coaching on today. Would you talk about both those, please?
COACH IZZO: Well, the first one, Adreian is -- you know, he was disappointed in himself, the Valpo game. He just didn't play the same way. And we knew -- you know, we had to have our athletes today. That's what hurt us against Louisville last year. We didn't have B. J. And I told Gary and I told Adreian and I told Branden Dawson that you three got to play because you're the closest thing we have to what they have, and we have to win that battle, which will be on the boards and defensively and things. I thought all three guys did, especially Adreian. If you're talking about Nix in the huddle, you know, let's blame the Palace. I blame the Palace a little bit if you're not talking about, you know, Nix got after Keith Appling in the huddle, but 13 years ago, you know, one of the most famous things that ever happened to me was walking down that hallway and listening to Mateen Cleaves get on his best friend in the world, Morris Peterson, and I had to go in there and almost -- you know, so some things happen in public, some things happen in private. I got asked by the TV people, you know, Nix threw a towel at his roommate, his best friend, his guy. You know, we have a tendency to do that. (Laughter) But that's what I meant about a player coached team, you know. I need players to get on players sometimes. Sometimes, though, you know, Nix doesn't know exactly how. You know, he's trying to please me and he doesn't know exactly how. But trust me, you know, it was fun. Players were a lot more vocal today. I mean, I just loved that. You know, this has been the greatest weekend we've had of the year, because I begged those phones a little bit and I listen to guys talk like magpies on the bus. I listen to them in the film sessions. I told them today I'm really proud of them. I really enjoyed it, and it was fun. So it culminated tonight by -- we did a lot of good things, but, you know, we made some mistakes. That's kind of who we are, and that's the only problem with the leaderless kind of real guy. Everybody's looking on who can be the guy. So there's a good answer. I just shot myself in the foot. (Laughter)
Q. Can you talk about the inside-out play that you seem to really have working maybe at a level you haven't had in a little while?
COACH IZZO: Well, I think one of them is Nix gets deep. You know, he sometimes gets forced out. When he gets in deep and with A.P. shooting the ball like he can shoot it, it's hard. You know, you got a spacing four like we had back in the day with A.J. Granger. It opens up things. You know, Keith, when he's penetrating and getting the ball in and out to Gary, you know, if you double Nix they're going to kick it out and you don't he can score in there, and I just thought we did a really good job of that today. The only thing that held us back the first half I thought was, number one, they are a good team. I mean, they really are. You know, you have trouble watching them on film and sometimes saying, okay, who they playing against, what's going on. They got athletes. They got shooters. They got size. They got a very good point guard. That's a very good basketball team. So that gave us some trouble just because we were good. But we turned the ball over. We made some -- you know, we had 18 for the game, and just inexcusable, and some of them were foolish turnovers. We took some chances. I said we're playing harder. Now we got to take one more step, play harder, tougher, and smarter. And we're taking chances on balls. Guys hitting a three. We're taking chances on passes. You know, if anybody's got -- thinks that the Adreian Payne to Derrick Nix fast break is in my play book, then you're on dial a clue. (Laughter) You know, it's not. So those things got to go, you know. Because you're going to get to the point where games -- and this is what I'm trying to impress upon my team, because I do know what it takes to get there, you got to have less mistakes, less mistakes, less mistakes, because you're going to play better teams, and better teams, and better teams.
Q. Tom, how is Keith doing shoulder-wise? Secondly, can you talk about the job that both Travis and Denzel did today?
COACH IZZO: Well, those two guys had a tough job. You know, Trav, I think you saw the one time where his weight or lack thereof because of the summer he went through, you know, hurt him. But those are some strong, physical guards, those big guys, and they were like linebackers. You know, I thought Denzel, you know, he hung in there too and handled it. You know, we just -- sometimes I think we got guys that want to do a little bit too much for what they're ready for, and yet those two guys did a hell of a job under the circumstances they were placed in, no Gary and no Keith for a long time. And Gary had been playing so well. So now you don't have to guard a Gary Harris and that makes it even more difficult. So I thought they did a hell of a job.
Q. And Keith?
COACH IZZO: No idea. He said he could have gone back in. I think he could have gone back in on guts alone, which worries me a little bit because he wasn't. Coach, you know, put me in. I mean, Cleaves threatened me, so I just said go ahead. He didn't threaten me, you know, he just kind of, I can go, Coach, you know, and I just didn't think it was the right time.
Q. Gary had been kind of struggling a little bit the last couple weeks. What does that say about him that he stepped up so much in that first half?
COACH IZZO: Big heart. Big heart. A lot of guts. He's a tough kid. I think he shines -- you know, he wants to play in the big games, I think the big stage. You know, he's had his moments when I think he had the deer in the headlights, but I addressed it, I told him what I thought of it, and he was honest about it, you know. And I think that's what's been great about him. He accepts things. He tries to change them. You know there's no question, boy, and, yet, he was right. Give our guys credit. They gave him some step-in three-point shots. I mean, just about every shot he took was a great assist usually from inside somewhere, whether it be Keith, whether it be Trav. B. J. gave him one. A.P. gave him one. Nix gave him two. You know, that was big for us.
Q. Can you talk about the difficulty of getting these first two wins?
COACH IZZO: No. Sometimes these are the hardest. I mean, especially that first one is really hard, and then you come, and the way it's changed since 2000 is a high seed used to get you out of the first weekend, you know, now it barely gets you out of the first game, as we're all seeing. So it's changed. And you still have that problem of convincing your team that this team that's not one of the power six teams is good enough, whether it be Valpo, whether it be them. I mean, I think we all have that problem. And it would be easy for probably you guys to sit there and say, well, just tell them, you know. Try telling your six-year-old something or your twelve-year-old or your 18-year-old, you know, you're sometimes the dumbest person on the block. You know, so we do tell them, but there is a reality to it, and that's what makes it hard, I think. But I thought our focus today was pretty good from the start. I really do.
Q. Tom, you've built this program on defense and rebounding. Can you talk about it today?
COACH IZZO: I thought we did a great job of that. I couldn't believe at halftime, you know, they had eight offensive rebounds but we were rebounding them. Man, but the second half, we dominated the boards. A.P. with his blocked shots. We didn't give them any of those crazy dunks, you know, that Stephens can have, and he's really good at that. I thought we handled the screen and rolls about as well as we could. We had a little bit of a miscue there late in the first half, but I thought we did a good job. And it was our defense and our rebounding. It did lead to our fast breaks, which we got some. But the transition defense was pretty good too. We got tired a couple times because we were out of subs. You know, we had a bad situation there when we got Gary in foul trouble and Keith hurt and Trav struggling. So, you know, there was a couple of times that they got them, but for the most part, I thought we did a great job of that.
Q. Tom, when you think back to when you first recruited Adreian and thought about the potential that he had, how close was that second half to what you thought he was capable of doing, and how critical was that with Gary, you know, out of the game in foul trouble?
COACH IZZO: Well, Adreian, I mean, we did want to go to him. I think they answered to the question wrong. They probably weren't listening in the huddle. But we did want to go to him. We wanted to go to him in the post a little bit more. He still struggles a little bit. You know, another 10 pounds and a little more muscle. Because they move them around in there a little bit more, but we did want to go to him in there and we wanted to get him involved. What he was doing was he was putting the ball on the floor too much instead of just moving it side to side, getting it to a ball screen where he can pick and pop and be open. And I thought he struggled with that. You know, he was being guarded more or less by a guard. You know, whether it -- no matter who it was. I think for a while they had Thomas on him a lot of it, and that kid is strong, tough, athletic. So I think once he got in the second half and he got over that -- at halftime we had a little talk and I think that helped, and he was very, very good. Very good. Better than even I thought he could be.
Q. Three-point game at the half. How pleasing was it to see that you guys had the killer instinct to put away a 30-win team like that?
COACH IZZO: Well, you know, the second half, my assistants -- because I wasn't happy with the way we were turning it over and that, and we made some very not-smart plays. You know, we went for some steals. They hit a three. We tried to dribble up loose balls. We turned it over. You know, things like that that you can't do. So I was upset about them and they keep telling me, you know, Hey, Coach, they only scored eight points, you know, they only scored nine points. And I think our defense was great. I thought they missed some shots that I think they could hit. I thought inside, we either played awfully well or they just missed some shots, one of the two. So I have to look in the film and see that.
Q. They went to, it looked like, a triangle and two. When did you pick up on that and what was the adjustment?
COACH IZZO: Well, our players did right away. We started running our man stuff against it, to be honest with you, but it was -- I didn't think we handled it great. We just made some plays and we got a couple breakout baskets. That's when we started turning the ball over. You know, we were up, I think, 13 in the first half. Is that the most we were up? You know, we made a couple of turnovers more than -- we didn't get a chance to attack it. I think we made three turnovers in a row on some goofy plays. Players talked about it in the huddle. It was harder to see that from the bench. Gary mentioned it when he was out there. Probably a smart move by Josh. Probably a really good move under the circumstances they were in, and yet then we figured it out. Second half we operated against it a little bit better when they did run it.
Q. Your bigs give you advantages. There was a time where you couldn't play those two together that much. Them being able to do this, how critical is that to everything you want to do here?
COACH IZZO: This team has really grown together. You know, I'm not kidding you. A.P. and Nix have gotten to be a lot closer. They understand that one needs the other one. If you have two posts, then one of them can't shoot. It's easy to defend. A.P. being able to spread the floor has been really good. Nix's unselfishness, that get it in, get it out has been really good. He's learned from last year to finish some of those instead of always kicking it out. Remember he used to kick out layups? You know, the guy would get a layup and he'd kick the ball out. You know, now he's found a happy medium. And they are playing better together, but you're right, earlier in the year it was a big question mark. You know, what do we do with B.J.? What do we do there? B.J. was more active today. Was slashing, was rebounding up under the rim. I thought he had a couple dunks earlier that he didn't dunk. I really do mean this, it still just shows he's not back to where he was, but I think he's making some big progress, and he was absolutely great again as far as his energy level. That's been fun.
Q. First time Michigan and Michigan State have been in the Sweet 16 in the same year. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH IZZO: I was surprised today. I said to you yesterday when everybody asked and, you know, probably shocked my media, but I'm pulling for all the Big Ten teams. That means I was pulling for Michigan. I was pulling for everybody today, and I didn't think that the fans would either way, but I felt like it was almost that way. I don't know about the first game because I wasn't out there, but it is pretty neat for our state to have two teams in one of the greatest basketball facilities in the country and have it here in Detroit. I thought that was pretty awesome. It sounds like they played pretty well, and thank God they're going to a different region so we don't have to worry about facing another Big Ten team right away. But I think it was great for the fans. Great for the state of Michigan, great for both schools.
Q. Keith went about 30 minutes before he scored his first point. Is there any limit to how this team can get the job done?
COACH IZZO: That's what I say, we're a hard scout because the head coach doesn't know who to expect it from all the time. So I don't know why the opponent would. You know, and Keith, I thought he let the game come to him. I was pleased with Keith's play. You know, he was getting dogged. They were double teaming him so he couldn't get the ball early. Like I say, Josh did some nice things on that, I felt, but -- as he did in the last game, but, you know, thank God we had enough other guys that rose to the occasion. And this team is now to the point where I do think we have some other guys. You know, we still -- Trav didn't have his best game today. Get him a little better. You know, I think we need a little more off our bench, but Costello gave us something and that helped. Yeah, we got a lot of different guys that contributed at different times.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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